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Sunday 12 January 2014

Twelfth Night

Fun, feasting …..and wassail
Chearsley went a-wassailing and enjoyed a wonderful evening of fine food and entertainment in a very traditional celebration of Twelfth Night in the Village Hall. Wassailing has a strong connection with England’s apple producing regions of the West Country and involves drinking the wassail cup and toasting the good health of the apple trees in order to scare away evil spirits and help deliver a good harvest of apples later in the year.
The Village Hall provided a spectacular setting for the evening, thanks to the tireless efforts of Joy Payne and helpers. Proceedings began with the drawing of lots to choose the Master of Ceremonies. John Wynburn was duly elected as the Lord of Misrule. His duty was to ‘turn the world upside down’ and he passed the test with aplomb.
Glasses charged with wassail and toasts delivered, diners then enjoyed a sumptuous banquet prepared by Anne Pratt and Julia Witcher, including a hearty game pie - and homity pie for the less carnivorously inclined, followed by lemon posset and a tempting cheese board. If that was not enough, all were then offered a large slice of Beryl Wright’s delicious Twelfth Night Cake, specially baked for the occasion.
Revellers then sat back and enjoyed a full programme of home-grown entertainment – no doubting that Chearsley’s got talent
Jenny Scholefield and Joy Payne got the evening off to a flying start as they sailed across the floor ‘stately as two galleons’ with a colourful performance of the Joyce Grenfell classic.
Mike Heybrook was in fine voice as he delivered the Irish ballad ‘The West’s Awake’ with great passion, in celebration of the recent Connacht rugby victory over French giants Toulouse in the Heineken European Cup. He then changed tack and treated his audience to a humorous interpretation of ‘Christmas Waites’ by William Sterndale Bennett.
Alicia Howard took to the floor, suitably attired in her husband’s best shirt, to read ‘T’was the Month after Christmas’ - with its its awful reminder of the weeks of dieting and abstinence ahead, after the recent excesses of Christmas festivities.
Giles Witcher and Chris Mundy delivered an enchanting performance of Handel’s aria and love song ‘Silent Worship’.
 Colm Henry took us back to the Emerald Isle with the highly entertaining ‘Ballad of Father Gilligan’ by Irish literary genius, W.B. Yeats.
The St Nicholas Christmas Choir delivered a beautiful rendition of the popular Christmas hymn ‘Jesus Christ the Apple Tree’
The audience then travelled ‘oop north’ in the company of Darren Sampson to hear the trials and tribulations of Tony Capstick after a hard day’s work at ‘t’pit’
Giles and Chris orchestrated the assembled company in the performance of an ‘alternative’ Twelve Days of Christmas, based on an eclectic range of gifts received from their true loves including six sweaty socks, five toilet rolls and a ‘bra that was made to fit three’…..and worse besides.
The Chearsley Handbell Ringers brought the entertainment to a delightful close as they played a traditional carol from cider country ‘The Gloucestershire Wassail
The raffle was then drawn, and Clare Lazaruk won the star prize – yes, you’ve guessed it, an apple tree!
The Lord of Misrule put his more anarchic behaviour to one side and offered sincere thanks to the many who had helped in putting together such a wonderful and memorable evening, with special mention to the main organisers, Anne Pratt and Julia Witcher.
The evening raised a total of £600 for the Three New Bells for St Nicholas and the pundits are already forecasting a bumper crop of apples next autumn.
A selection of photographs of the evening can be viewed on this link

Sunday 5 January 2014